The combination of tomatoes and chili is obvious, like steak and potatoes.
Making a truly great tomato sauce with heat, however, is not so easily done.
Luckily, most canned Italian plum tomatoes are sweet enough to support a good deal of spice.
Balancing the sugar with a degree of punch, however, is a bit trickier. Most diavolo sauces simply call for garlic and red pepper flake for heat.
This version, adapted from Radici Restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, broadens the spectrum of spice without overpowering one’s palate. Traditionally served with seafood, diavolo works well with chicken and beef, though it is also wonderful served simply with pasta, or even over a slice of grilled bread and a poached egg, also known as “eggs in purgatory.”
yields roughly 2 quarts
- Two 35 ounce cans of whole, peeled Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Â½ teaspoon cumin
- Â½ teaspoon white pepper
- Â½ teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Â½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- Â¼ cup chopped parsley
- Â¼ cup chopped basil
- About Â¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a blender or food processor, puree one can of the tomatoes until smooth. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion in olive oil until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and all the spices and cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. A
dd the pureed tomatoes, white wine and the other can of tomatoes, crushing them by hand as you add them. They should provide the sauce with a little texture. Add the basil and parsley, and cook for 30-45 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.